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You may be stressed out reading what stress does to your brain

You may be stressed out reading what stress does to your brain

You may be stressed out reading what stress does to your brain

Stress might lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage, new study says.

If you’re already feeling stressed out, sorry, but there’s one more thing you might need to worry about: A new study finds that stress may impair your memory now and quicken cognitive decline later in life.

If you live a high-stress life, you could have memory loss and brain shrinkage before you turn 50, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

During the study, with more than 2,000 healthy, middle-aged volunteers, doctors found that those with higher blood levels of the hormone cortisol — an indicator of stress — performed more poorly on memory tests and had a slightly shrunken brain volume compared to those with a normal level of the hormone. The effect was more evident among women in the study.

“Higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, seem to predict brain function, brain size and performance on cognitive tests,” says study author Dr. Sudha Seshadri, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio.

“We found memory loss and brain shrinkage in relatively young people long before any symptoms could be seen,” Seshadri says. “It’s never too early to be mindful of reducing stress.”

Previous studies have found a relationship between cortisol and dementia risk, but the focus has been mostly on the elderly and the memory area of the brain, called the hippocampus. This new study suggests that the effects could be as worrying in middle-aged people.

Cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, helps the body respond to stress. It can also help reduce inflammation, control blood sugar and blood pressure, regulate metabolism and help with immune response.

High cortisol levels can be caused by stress, medical conditions or medications.

The researchers say that it’s important for physicians to counsel all people with higher cortisol levels.

Feeling stressed? Try these top stress-reducing tips and help reduce some of the pressure on your brain!

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